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Sunshine through the clouds for SkyEurope

AFTER a series of bleak reports about seized planes and impatient creditors, Slovak low-cost airline SkyEurope announced at the end of July that it had found a new investor and a €5-million loan, which together should help the company get back on its feet. SkyEurope’s announcement that it had agreed a deal to bring the Austrian investment group Focus Equity on board instantly boosted confidence in the prospects of the airline, which simultaneously managed to extend its operating licence.

AFTER a series of bleak reports about seized planes and impatient creditors, Slovak low-cost airline SkyEurope announced at the end of July that it had found a new investor and a €5-million loan, which together should help the company get back on its feet. SkyEurope’s announcement that it had agreed a deal to bring the Austrian investment group Focus Equity on board instantly boosted confidence in the prospects of the airline, which simultaneously managed to extend its operating licence.

Back in June, a Bratislava district court granted SkyEurope Airlines temporary protection from its creditors. At the same time, the company’s planes encountered problems obtaining permission to leave some French, Bulgarian and Romanian airports amid reports of unpaid airport fees.

“Austrian investment group Focus Equity has signed an agreement to provide a new equity investment of up to €16.5 million in SkyEurope, conditional upon a number of factors including the successful completion of the financial reorganisation of SkyEurope Airlines,
which has been underway since last month,” said SkyEurope in an official release.

The €5-million loan, agreed under a separate deal, comes from Chain Box Technology Ltd., which is registered in England and Wales.

“This overarching credit will be used to replenish internal cash-flow for the needs of operational capital before the agreement on the investment between SkyEurope and Focus Equity is implemented,” airline spokesman Tomáš Kika told TASR.

The news about SkyEurope’s financial takeoff has increased interest in its tickets, mainly those for the winter season, while on August 3 shares in Holding SkyEurope rose on the Vienna Stock Exchange, the Sme daily wrote.

In return for its €16.5 million investment, the Austrian investor will get a package of shares.

SkyEurope also completed the renewal of its fleet by signing a long-term leasing contract to operate two Boeing 737-300 aircraft. The airline will operate 32 routes to 24 destinations in 17 countries during the winter. This capacity will be leased from the Slovak company Air Slovakia and will be run wholly by SkyEurope air crews.

The low-cost carrier’s fleet will now consist of four Boeing 737-700 New Generation aircraft, four Boeing 737-300 and two Boeing 737-500 aircraft.

SkyEurope Holding CEO and financial director Nick Manoudakis said that SkyEurope was pleased to have signed the financing agreements so early in the company’s reorganisation.

“This shows that investors such as Focus see the potential in SkyEurope and recognise the opportunity of agreeing now to an investment in the company,” Manoudakis said.

SkyEurope, however, still has one of its planes stranded at Paris Orly Airport, following a ruling by a French court in Creteil on July 28.

“The Court ruled in favour of Paris Orly Airport, which will keep the plane,” Helene Caillet from Paris Orly Airport’s press department told the TASR newswire.

Soon after SkyEurope was granted protection from its creditors by a Slovak court in June, Paris Orly Airport detained the plane because of what it said were unpaid take-off and landing fees.

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